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Villagers critical of Apsara Authority

Villagers critical of Apsara Authority

Siem Reap Province
VILLAGERS in Kork Chak commune plan to submit a petition requesting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention after officials from the Apsara Authority tore down a house officials said had been built in a “protected area”, in part of what they call a broader effort to crack down on illegal construction.

Lim Enghav, a 36-year-old Military Police officer and owner of the dismantled house, said the petition contained nearly 200 thumb prints and would be sent to the premier’s cabinet today. He said he hoped Hun Sen would protect villagers’ rights to build new homes, as well as additions to existing ones. He had just finished his 20-square-metre corrugated tin home – which was torn down on Sunday by around 30 people – last Friday. “It is like robbery,” he said.

Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor temple complex, said the homes were located in a protected area, and that the organisation had already instructed them not to build new homes or additions.

“In general, we are doing this only for illegal houses,” he said. “And before we tear down homes, we ask the villagers to move their illegal constructions. If they do not listen, then this is the last stage.”

Kork Chak commune chief Seng Suth confirmed Apsara had ramped up enforcement, but several Veal village residents said the regulations were too restrictive. Tom Voeun, 57, said: “I thumb-printed this petition to support the right for people to build small houses to live in. If they do not allow people to construct homes, where will people sleep?”